John J. Collins
With only twenty‐one verses, the book of Obadiah is the shortest of the prophetic books. It consists of a series of short oracles against Edom (vv. 1–14), then an oracle against all the nations (15f), followed by a prediction of the restoration of Judah. Edom was a small state to the south of Judah. (It was later called Idumaea.) The Edomites incurred the lasting hatred of the Jews in the sixth century BC by exploiting the weaknesses of Judah and pillaging its territory after the Babylonian invasion. Relations remained very bitter when the Jews returned from the exile and restored the city of Jerusalem. The prophecy of Obadiah belongs to this general period (sixth or early fifth century BC) but contains no indication of its specific date. The hatred between Judah and Edom was intense and lasting. Long after Edom had ceased to be a threat to the Jews, the name Edom was used in rabbinic literature as a code name for Rome, the hated enemy of the day.